Author Topic: The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration  (Read 1490 times)

Online catdlr

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The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration
« on: 09/18/2017 09:46 PM »
The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration

Scott Manley
Published on Sep 18, 2017

Everyone makes mistakes, sometimes little mistakes can cause big problems, so here's my list of the small mistakes which turned into big problems while exploring space.


Also Sprach Zarathutra Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsqe3utT6rs?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Offline savuporo

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Re: The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration
« Reply #1 on: 09/19/2017 01:16 AM »
Ouch on Schiaparelli making the list ..

Proton gyros backwards, totally expected that, but he gave Genesis capsule backwards accelerometers a pass ?

And how the hell didn't Beagle make it ? It was pretty dumb all around, too.

Oh, and certain corroded nuts, which were pretty dumb, too.

« Last Edit: 09/19/2017 01:19 AM by savuporo »
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration
« Reply #2 on: 09/19/2017 03:05 AM »
tl,dw: *

"I'm smarter than all those people who build rockets and spacecraft."











* "too long, didn't watch"
« Last Edit: 09/19/2017 03:06 AM by Blackstar »

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration
« Reply #3 on: 09/20/2017 08:50 AM »
"I'm smarter than all those people who build rockets and spacecraft."

If you knew Scott's posting history on YouTube, you wouldn't say that. He freely admits to having 'fat thumbs' when playing games and his Kerbal Space Program motto is: "Check your staging!"
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration
« Reply #4 on: 09/20/2017 05:07 PM »
"I'm smarter than all those people who build rockets and spacecraft."

If you knew Scott's posting history on YouTube, you wouldn't say that. He freely admits to having 'fat thumbs' when playing games and his Kerbal Space Program motto is: "Check your staging!"

And yet, the video is basically "Look at all these stupid people!"

I'll admit to having a chip on my shoulder about this (one of many chips, but there you go...): I was an investigator on the CAIB, and one of the things I learned there is that simplistic critiques of very complex failures are pointless, counter-productive, and in the end rather stupid (and ALL spacecraft failures are complex failures). I cringe every time somebody brings up the metric conversion error for Mars Climate Orbiter. They point to it and say "Look! They made a dumb math error! What dummies!" and then they think the issue is settled. The reality is that "dumb math errors" happen for EVERY space program. The issue is not that it happened, but why it was not caught and corrected. That's a deeper question of "why"? What was the root cause, or root causes, of the failure?

I realize that he's just creating a light-hearted YouTube video, and who really gives a flying leap? But I think that when people do this, it is often just as illuminating about human psychology as it is about the actual subject. There's a psychological need to point at things and say "the reason that happened is because the people are idiots" because that makes the pointer feel superior. But that's actually a rather useless exercise, because it rarely educates the audience.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration
« Reply #5 on: 09/20/2017 05:18 PM »
Going from memory the difference in units that were used and not found to be in conflict was caused by budgetary reasons due to cost cutting. Essentially "the checkers who check the checkers" were downsized... Please feel free to correct or add to my recollection...
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Offline Firehawk153

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Re: The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration
« Reply #6 on: 09/20/2017 05:40 PM »
"I'm smarter than all those people who build rockets and spacecraft."

If you knew Scott's posting history on YouTube, you wouldn't say that. He freely admits to having 'fat thumbs' when playing games and his Kerbal Space Program motto is: "Check your staging!"

And yet, the video is basically "Look at all these stupid people!"

I'll admit to having a chip on my shoulder about this (one of many chips, but there you go...): I was an investigator on the CAIB, and one of the things I learned there is that simplistic critiques of very complex failures are pointless, counter-productive, and in the end rather stupid (and ALL spacecraft failures are complex failures). I cringe every time somebody brings up the metric conversion error for Mars Climate Orbiter. They point to it and say "Look! They made a dumb math error! What dummies!" and then they think the issue is settled. The reality is that "dumb math errors" happen for EVERY space program. The issue is not that it happened, but why it was not caught and corrected. That's a deeper question of "why"? What was the root cause, or root causes, of the failure?

I realize that he's just creating a light-hearted YouTube video, and who really gives a flying leap? But I think that when people do this, it is often just as illuminating about human psychology as it is about the actual subject. There's a psychological need to point at things and say "the reason that happened is because the people are idiots" because that makes the pointer feel superior. But that's actually a rather useless exercise, because it rarely educates the audiece.

I appreciate and enjoy what Scott has brought to his channel in years past but some of the stuff he's uploaded lately makes me think its more to keep his YouTube subscriptions coming.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2017 05:58 PM by Firehawk153 »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration
« Reply #7 on: 09/20/2017 06:00 PM »
If the subject of failures in space missions (particularly launch) and why they happen is something that interests you, then you should seek out Wayne Eleazer's numerous articles about various failures on The Space Review. Eleazer has pointed to many long-forgotten launch failures and explains how sometimes they were caused by really obscure things. What is particularly educational about his articles is that he demonstrates that quite often there is limited learning from failures. Something fails, there's an investigation, the specific failure mode is identified and corrected, but often people don't address the bigger issues that allowed the failure to happen--or personnel change and the new people are unaware of the lessons learned the hard way by their predecessors.

After you've read a bunch of Eleazer's articles, you develop an appreciation for not applying broad conclusions to issues like success, failure, and safety.

Offline savuporo

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Re: The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration
« Reply #8 on: 09/20/2017 08:11 PM »
What is particularly educational about his articles is that he demonstrates that quite often there is limited learning from failures. Something fails, there's an investigation, the specific failure mode is identified and corrected, but often people don't address the bigger issues that allowed the failure to happen--or personnel change and the new people are unaware of the lessons learned the hard way by their predecessors.

I think this is the part that is fair game, when it comes to calling things 'dumb' on a Youtube edutainment channel. For example, after Falcon 1 corroded nut incidenc, we got this:

Quote
Then the second type of improvement is in people and processes.  We’re adding aa triple sign-off for all work done on the launch pad, on flight components, and flight critical GSE.  You have a technician, a responsible engineer, and then quality assurance will sign the final, record all information, and take photographs of all the work that was done, and then make sure that all information is put into our quality assurance database, which is reviewed prior to launch.

I'm sure many people working in the industry and reading this were thinking 'welcome to aerospace'
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: The Dumbest Mistakes In Space Exploration
« Reply #9 on: 09/20/2017 09:19 PM »
I'm sure many people working in the industry and reading this were thinking 'welcome to aerospace'

What Eleazer's articles show is that even when a company or organization adopts the right processes (double check, then check again), that might not be enough. Those processes can erode over time. They have to be periodically refreshed. You need an organization that is devoted to teaching and training and learning.

Now NASA has at times failed at that. I remain worried that NASA as an institution no longer focuses on learning the lessons of Challenger and Columbia, as well as other major failures. It's not easy to do this stuff. It requires a culture of safety. And arguably there are unhealthy paths that an organization can take while trying to achieve this (for example, JSC's Mission Control, I have been told, is very focused on rules and procedures to do everything right, but that makes them rigid and opposed to innovative methods to achieve safety goals).

I think that some of Eleazor's information is mistaken (he has often written articles without specifically indicating dates and launches, which leads me to believe that he does a lot of his writing based upon memory and not looking at records), but you'll learn a lot about all the rather weird ways that space missions can fail. Some of them you can look at and think that they are "dumb mistakes," but often they are not the kinds of mistakes that would have occurred to anybody--even the smartest person--before they actually happened.

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